09:44 GMT01 December 2020
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    A new cache of several hundred rocks with elaborate engravings from the Stone Age has been found on the Danish island of Bornholm. Researchers are still at sea over what the rocks represent or what their meaning is, which makes the finding even more special.

    The island of Bornholm, a popular tourist destination known among Danes as the "Sunshine Island," is home to about 300 rocks with quaint etchings, some of which date back to the Stone Age and are over 5,000 years old, the Copenhagen Post daily reported.

    However, archeologists had another reason to dub the ever-widening collection of stones unearthed in recent years as "sun stones" — the carvings evoking the image of the sun with sunbeam-like lines radiating from the center. By contrast, others are square shaped and etched with lines and spider web patterns.

    At present, researchers from numerous institutions from Denmark and Sweden are none the wiser about the stones' purpose and meaning, regardless of their shape and pattern.

    ​"This is the million-dollar question," Lars Larsson, a professor emeritus of archeology at the University of Lund in Sweden, told the Danish science news portal Videnskab, which was the first to report the discovery.

    The recent cache of stones was discovered in Vasagård in southern Bornholm, where similar findings occurred in recent years. The stones the size of a large coin are small enough to carry, yet look worn out, as if they have been moved around by their owners.

    "We've known about sun stones for a while, but the field stones are something entirely new," Finn Ole Sonne Nielsen, senior archaeologist at the Bornholm Museum, said.

    Vasagård itself is believed to have been the site of an ancient sun temple, as its location corresponds to the direction of sunrays during solstices and equinoxes.

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    One of the ideas is that the stones might have been used for an array of ritualistic purposes, such as serving as amulets, temple offerings or good luck charms. Alternatively, the spider-web patterns can symbolically represent the transition between life and death.

    "It can also be a form of counting," Rune Iversen, an associate professor at the University of Copenhagen ventured. "Who knows? Some of the most exciting of the latest findings is that we have had a variety of patterns."

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    The first stone of this kind was found in 1995 at Rispebjerg, yet another cultural site around 8 km east of Vasagård.

    ​Bornholm is Denmark's easternmost territory located south of Sweden and has a population of 40,000 inhabitants. Among Danes, it is known as "Sunshine island" or "Rocky island."


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    archeology, history, Scandinavia, Denmark
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